Ramsden and Miller Bag Major First Ascent in Remote Western Nepal

Paul Ramsden and Tim Miller of the UK are back from western Nepal with another formidable first ascent, this time of Surma-Sarovar.

They climbed via the north face. Loyal to strict alpine style criteria, they used no porters or supplementary oxygen, fixed no ropes, and did it in one push. According to the climbers’ altimeter, Surma-Sarovar measured 6,605m, Ramsden told sponsor Mountain Equipment.

“We climbed a great mountain, though I now have my first case of frostbite,” he said.

The pair will be in Briancon, France next week to retrieve a Piolet d’Or for last year’s Phantom Line up Jugal Spire — the 5th Piolet d’Or of Ramsden’s career.

“Five is starting to get a bit embarrassing,” he told ExplorersWeb modestly.

Two generations

Ramsden, 54, belongs to the British school that advocates pure alpine-style, exploratory alpinism. He made most of his award-winning climbs with Mick Fowler, now 67. Last year, he went to Jugal Spire with Tim Miller, a 37-year-old IFMGA mountain guide and proficient ice climber. They made a good team, so this fall, they repeated the experience.

The climbers smile to the camera (close shot) with helmets and mountain down jackets on.

Tim Miller, left, and Paul Ramsden on the summit of Jugal Spire in 2022. Photo: Tim Miller

Pure exploration

They approached the planning of Surma-Sarovar as they did Jugal Spire, with just some Google Earth images as a guide, but no pictures or further information. Surma-Sarovar lies in the Salimor Khola Valley, and the climbers, accompanied by Matthew Glenn and Hamish Frost, were the only humans in the area.

“Just getting to base camp was a major achievement with difficult river crossings and earthquakes all posing challenges,” they reported.

a triangle shows the peak's rough location on a map of Nepal.

Location of Surma-Sarovar, near the border with Tibet and India. Map: Wikipedia


The pair climbed Surma-Sarovar in an eight-day, non-stop trip from base camp. They spent four of those days climbing the massive, 2,100m north face. The difficult and highly committed descent took two further days. The pair graded the climb as ED — extremely difficult. Miller drew a topo of the climb (below) but warned, “The photo shows just the top half of the face!”

the ascent and descent routes

The ascent route, right, and descent route, left, on Surma-Sarovar. Photo: Hamish Frost


Meanwhile, Matt Glenn and Hamish Frost, who accompanied the pair to the Salimor Khola Valley, attempted two adjacent peaks but eventually had to retreat on both because of risky conditions.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.